Dining Out: The Fish House in Stanley Park

It was my birthday and my girlfriends treated me to afternoon tea at the Fish House. Their tea is super strong so we kept on asking for more water. The food was very good, my favourite were the scones, heavenly flaky, buttery, warm and scrumptious. It was the perfect setting to unwind and catch up.


The Fish House in Stanley Park
8901 Stanley Park Drive
Vancouver, BC
604-681-7275

Dining Out: The Rotten Grape

I'm pregnant so being in the Okanagan and not allowed to drink is like being being a kid in a candy store and not allowed any sugar. It did not help that we walked right into Wino Wednesdays at The Rotten Grape, where you can sample a flight from a featured winery and meet the winemakers. The wall was climbing with bottles and I had to contain myself. I'm not a wine aficionado but I do enjoy trying different kinds - I will continue to wait.

Concentrating on the menu, it was hard to decided what to order. There were so many things that seemed deliciously interesting. I really felt like pizza so we ordered the roasted duck pizza and the wine country salad. The pizza was super thin and along with the duck, topped with caramelized onions, smoked gouda and tomato sauce. Hubby thought the pizza was too thin for his liking, I felt that it was just perfect. The thinner the better. The salad was was underdressed but the apples and walnuts made up for it.

In lieu of dessert, we had the cheese plate. And this really hit the spot. The lavender honey was a fantastic condiment with the creamy blue cheese on home made crackers.

The Rotten Grape
321 Bernard Ave.
Kelowna, BC
250-717-8466
http://www.rottengrape.com/

Dining Out: Dirty Apron Cooking School


What do you get when you work in an office of foodies who are in need of a fun office party? An evening of cooking and dining at the Dirty Apron Cooking School that's what! We decided to partake in the class, Mama Mia II - the Return of the Italian. It wasn't the name that caught our attention, but the menu - homemade pasta, prawn risotto, seared sable fish, poached pear tart with sabayon... ... So many things to learn to make! But can we do it all in one night? Just think of the time it takes to stir a pot of risotto and beating the sabayon to a pulp so it doesn't separate. I was skeptical if we can accomplish this daunting task, not to mention make it all tasty enough to have for dinner.


Well thanks to our friend David Robertson and his team, it all went down extremely well, the lesson, the cooking, the food, and the wine. Our cooking stations were impeccable, everyone had their own equipped with everything you needed, including a Wolf range which I wanted to take home with me. Actually, there was everything except for a timer and oven mitts. I tried to just use the tea towel as my oven mitt like a pro, yet every time I went into that hot oven to retrieve my pan my intense fear of getting burned was not comforting. And thank goodness I had a watch on, because I did not want to burn that poached pear tart.

Most of our ingredients where measured and prepped for us so it saved valuable time. As for that risotto, our individual portions were par-cooked already, so it only took minutes to bring it up to the perfect consistency. David was a great teacher, and overall it was a very enjoyable experience and even better that I got to share it with people who love food as much as I do.

Dining Out: Raincity Grill

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and my tummy started growling at around 4pm so we decided to go for an early dinner. After contemplating a few of our favourites, we decided to go with a whole new direction and head on down to Raincity Grill to have their early prix fixe menu – 3 course meal for $30. We were the first table in at 5:30pm and was seated right by the window, the prime spot for enjoying a beautiful sunset overlooking English Bay, but it was still raining. We had our picks from an option of 2 appetizers, 3 mains, and 2 desserts. First came the butternut squash soup, with hazelnut ‘shortbread’ and fennel marmalade. The soup was fantastic and the hazelnut dust sprinkle added a great flavour and texture, but the fennel marmalade was too sweet as it overpowered the rest of the dish.


Next came the wild salmon, cooked just right with a crispy savory yet honey sweet skin, it was served with potato gnocchi, rainbow chard and creamed celery. I could have done without the four little pillows of sauceless seared gnocchi. Hubby liked them so he ate most of mine.
Dessert was hazelnut cake with poached pear, pear sorbet, pear gelee and sabayone. This was a real winner, the flavours and textures all worked together beautifully to form a fantastic scrumptious party in my mouth. (Unfortunately, I have no photo.) Hubby ordered the cheesecake, after reading the description, I had warned him that this dish would be more like eating a hunk of cheese rather than cake. I was right and he was indeed disappointed that he ordered it. As he was eying my dessert, I took the hint and gave him half of mine, which he devoured in no time at all.



As expected, the service was prompt, timely and excellent. Yet one funny thing I did notice, just like when I went for dinner at Fraiche in the very upper West Van – we were the only ones there under the age of 50.

Raincity Grill
1193 Denman Street
Vancouver, BC
604-685-7337

Dining Out: Nuba

I was here for lunch a few weeks ago and decided that I must crawl back into this underground hole of a gem in the very near future to taste the Najib’s Special again. The Najib’s Special is crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt – crispy meaning deep fried to a lovely flavourful golden brown, very tasty. On this occasion we had the Lamb Kibbeh Sainieh - lamb meatballs and Le Grand Feast which came with hummus (good), baba ghanooj (good), crispy cauliflower (I already told you that was very good), crispy lamb chops (good), prawns (VERY good) and roasted chicken (okay). It didn't look like much when it arrived but there was three of us and we were quite stuffed by the end. Pita bread and hummus can really add up in your stomach. The service was not bad yet not superb either, and to our disappointment they only serve smoothies at lunch time. Hubby is a smoothie fan.



Nuba
207-B West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
604-688-1655
nuba.ca

Dining Out: Toyama Japanese Restaurant

I'm looking forward for to my first 2010 Vancouver beach supper picnic. If the weather cooperates, it could happen as early as the end of April, with blankets and hot chocolate in tow, of course. Last year, we had many a relaxing evenings with all sorts of take out foods. On this occasion, it was sushi rolls from Toyama Japanese Restaurant. I have only ordered take out from this place but have never dined there because I'm not a fan of "all you can eat" anything - yet take out has always been standardly satisfying when I have a dynamite roll craving.




Toyama Japanese Restaurant
757 Seymour St.
Vancouver BC
604-688-3256

Dining Out: Calico Cupboard

Hubby and I decided to go to Seattle for 2 days over the long weekend, and after a 4 hour wait at the boarder I was hungry for anything other than McDs. What I really wanted was a good sandwich with some soup, but where along the I-5 will I be able to find that? We were close to Mt Vernon and I was getting restless, then I spotted a painted sign on a old brick building that read, "Calico Cupboard Old Town Cafe and Bakery". Jackpot! Without much expectation we walked into the most charming lunch spot, it was packed and we had to wait for a table. (good sign) The cinnamon buns beckoning in the bakery case was the size of my head and smells of warm yummy soup filled the air.


I ordered the half club house with turkey and wild rice soup, while hubby got the turkey sandwich with havarti, cream cheese, and cranberries.


From now on, road tripping down to Seattle will never be the same, I have a feeling that we will be returning to this place.

Calico Cupboard Cafe and Bakery
121-B Freeway Drive
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
(360) 336-3107

www.calicocupboardcafe.com
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